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With Concerns About Fall Return Of Penn State Students, State College To Look At Masking Rules

A line outside Doggie's Pub on Pugh Street in State College July 11, 2020.
Emily Reddy

Young people, many not wearing masks, lined up outside several bars in downtown State College Saturday.


Those scenes — Penn State students socializing, but not social distancing — have many local residents worried about what the fall semester could bring. In response, the borough is looking into its options for enforcing mask-wearing in public places.


Penn State is preparing to bring students back to its campuses for fall semester, and the busy downtown scene this past weekend in State College added to many local residents' concerns about controlling the spread of COVID-19. 


“If that’s going to be typical, I just think in a college town, we’re ripe for spread, community spread," said Deirdre O’Sullivan, who is on the faculty at Penn State and lives in town, near fraternities.


“The biggest concern for me is student behavior is a wild card. I think even the most competent and well-resourced administrations at universities can only do so much," she said.


Penn State has outlined steps it’s taking, including requiring masks and ending in-person classes around Thanksgiving.


Jesse Barlow, president of State College borough council, noted that so far Centre County has been fairly well-protected from the coronavirus. As of Monday, there were 251 known cases in Centre County, up from 243 the day before, according to the state Department of Health.



“We’re very concerned that there will be a huge spike when students come back," Barlow said.


The borough is developing an ordinance to enforce the state’s mask-wearing order. That's scheduled for council's agenda Aug. 4.

Anne Danahy has been a reporter at WPSU since fall 2017. Before crossing over to radio, she was a reporter at the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pennsylvania, and she worked in communications at Penn State. She is married with cats.
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